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How NGO “Trikutnyk” from Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, helps IDPs 

Publication date: March 6, 2024

Against the backdrop of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the role of civil society organizations in providing assistance and support to community residents is becoming increasingly important. An example of such an impact is the work of Trikutnyk, an NGO based in Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.

The organization joined the Legal Development Network at the beginning of the full-scale war. Until 2022, Trikutnyk was engaged in the cultural development of its community and the region, implementing art projects and organizing festivals. The challenges of the war forced us to open new areas of work and reformat our activities. Thus, one of the main tasks was to provide comprehensive assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs). Since February 2023, the organization’s initiatives have been supported by the DFID as part of a program to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to the challenges of war. We will tell you more about the results of this period below. 

Legal aid on the radio extends to the oblast

Today, Trikutnyk’s priorities include legal education and counseling, the development of comprehensive support projects for IDPs, and the introduction of a new area of assistance to family members of military personnel and veterans of the current war. 

Inna Kolesnyk, lawyer of the Triangle NGO. Photo from personal archive

We can say that we have become very visible in the field of legal aid,” says Inna Kolesnyk, a lawyer at Trikutnyk. “We have been working for several years to make this area of work really effective. Our organization regularly conducts on-site receptions in Kolomyia and neighboring villages of the community, as well as conducts remote consultations. The main topics raised by people are the rights of internally displaced persons, legal issues related to martial law and loss of documents, inheritance issues in the temporarily occupied territories, labor rights and employment opportunities in the new place. In 2023, we provided about 800 legal consultations to clients.

The organization provides comprehensive legal assistance to IDPs. For example, a displaced person from Luhansk region, with the help of the organization’s lawyers, was able to successfully resolve difficult situations with credit card debt cancellation and passport issuance that arose due to limited access to Ukrainian services and banks in the temporarily occupied territory. During the consultation, the lawyer told another client that a relative could receive not only official status, but also additional financial social assistance.

IDPs from Kolomyia community had the opportunity to learn about their rights and responsibilities and receive individual legal advice during an event in February 2023. Photo from the archive of Trikutnyk NGO

The radio program “Legal Cheat Sheet” has become quite popular on the local radio station Siaivo, where Inna Kolesnyk participates and talks about legal problems and possibilities for solving them.

“On the air, we explain changes in legislation and discuss topical social issues; recently, we reviewed the law on mobilization,” says Inna Kolesnyk. “The radio broadcast covers not only Kolomyia district but also neighboring communities, and we receive calls from people even from remote villages in Ivano-Frankivsk region. In addition, we have our own page in the local newspaper. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, we have been asked to write about ourselves, and we are preparing materials for publication. In general, the media like us and often invite us for interviews.”

Shelter has become a development center for IDPs

The social initiative Vulyk Zmistiv, coordinated by the NGO Trikutnyk, opened a shelter for IDPs in Kolomyia in February 2023 in a municipal building with the support of the Ukrainian Educational Platform and in cooperation with local authorities. Over the year, it has transformed from a temporary shelter to a development center that implements various initiatives.

The IDPs are accommodated in cooperation with the Kolomyia Unified Center for Social and Rehabilitation Services. Currently, the shelter can accommodate the maximum number of residents – 60 people. There are 20 rooms on two floors of the building, with showers, a room for children and two kitchens. A training room was created with the support of the LDN. The shelter regularly hosts trainings and meetings to discuss topical issues related to IDPs’ settlement in communities, local cultural peculiarities, and provide psychological support.

As part of the employment project, everyone was taught how to find a job and integrate into a new team. In September, a large job fair was held, bringing together entrepreneurs, representatives of both local and relocated industries, and local authorities to discuss the labor market opportunities in the Kolomyia community. The initiative’s social media pages also regularly post job openings.

In May 2023, during the employment training, 20 participants had the opportunity to understand the intricacies of creating an effective resume and profile. They practiced a lot, rehearsing possible scenarios for interviews. Olena Rogova, the project’s employment coordinator (pictured in the center), came to the community from Chernihiv in 2022, met the Trikutnyk team, and has been actively helping other IDPs since then. Photo from the Trikutnyk NGO archive

The organization’s projects regularly involve 12 team members, and many more are additionally involved in various events as coaches and volunteers.

“Our regular participants, in particular IDPs, are especially grateful for our women’s circles where they can socialize. “A significant part of our target audience is women, and we always take this into account,” notes Inna Kolesnyk. Among our specialists is a psychologist who specializes in working with IDPs, and we also invite other psychologists to conduct various trainings. We constantly emphasize that we have the opportunity to sign up for individual consultations or participate in group meetings with a psychologist, including group therapy, psycho-emotional relief activities for adults and children, including drawing. People can choose the format that best suits their needs.”

During a group art therapy session in May 2023, the participants expressed their fears, worries, dreams, and hopes on paper through drawing. Photo from the Triangle NGO archive
By conducting art therapy classes, the community successfully helps to maintain the internal state of the shelter residents and stimulates them to be active, helping to prevent problems. Photo from the Triangle NGO archive

Plans for community activities

Trikutnyk’s team is actively working to expand opportunities for IDPs to participate in community decision-making.

The city council, civil society representatives and IDPs discuss the mechanism for establishing a Council for Internally Displaced Persons in Kolomyia community in May 2023. Photo from the archive of Trikutnyk NGO

Members of Trikutnyk are members of the IDP Council of Kolomyia community. Solomiya Zinets-Matsyshyn is a member of the district IDP council, Inna Kolesnyk is a member of the Kolomyia IDP council, and Olena Rogova is its co-chair. This allows them to expand social ties and actively contribute to the development of the community, including through joint activities with partners.

One such project is aimed at building communal property to create social housing. The team actively advocates for the rights of internally displaced persons, helping them to apply for housing from the temporary housing fund.

“We are currently considering the possibility of public control over the implementation of a construction project that involves the conversion of one of the existing buildings and the construction of a new building in the community for social housing,” says Inna Kolesnyk. “Up to 80% of this housing will be rented to IDPs, and the remaining 20% will be used by community residents with difficult life circumstances. This approach will facilitate better integration of IDPs, giving them the opportunity to live among the local population rather than in isolation.”

Trikutnyk is planning to develop a new area of work – helping families of military personnel. A project is currently being implemented to increase tolerance and create a safe environment in educational institutions by developing the ability to communicate and provide assistance to children whose parents are defending Ukraine or have been killed in the line of duty. Several projects are aimed at providing psychological support to military family members. As part of this initiative, Trikutnyk develops important social videos. The organization is actively involved in creating a veterans’ space in the community.

“We involve psychologists who have the appropriate skills and desire to help to work with family members of military personnel. There is a great need for this – both IDPs and local residents have relatives who serve,” emphasizes Inna Kolesnyk. We would like to join a certain study of psychological support in the process of legal consultations and send our specialists for appropriate training. Professional development is very important for both legal aid and social support. It would also be useful to take part in training together with representatives of the authorities involved in the provision of social services for veterans to achieve more effective cooperation.”

The material was created with the support of the international charitable platform GlobalGiving, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The content of the publication is the sole responsibility of the public union “Legal Development Network”.

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